Minor Counties: Shropshire go top with third successive victory

Cricket

Shropshire kept up their winning Minor Counties Championship start, going top of the Western Division with a five-wicket win over Oxfordshire at Banbury.

After dismissing their hosts for 401 in their second innings Shropshire reached their target of 247-5 in relative comfort, with 14 overs in hand.

James Ralph top scored on 93 not out, well backed by Anthony Parker (43 no) and Tom Home (44).

Shropshire's third straight Western Division win earned a 24-point maximum.

They are now two points clear at the top, ahead of Cheshire and Wales, who have both also won their opening three matches.

Having bowled out Oxfordshire for 226 on the first day, Ralph was also top scorer in Shropshire's first innings, making 124, his seventh Championship century, as Shropshire posted 384 - for a crucial first innings lead of 158.

Shropshire have now won all eight of their competitive matches this season since the pre-season return to the county of former Yorkshire batsman Kevin Sharp as coach.

They were victorious in all four group games in the MCCA Trophy, which they won for the first time at Lord's in 2010.

They then also won their quarter-final against Wales last month to set up this weekend's last-four clash away to Hertfordshire at Harpenden (14 July - reserve day 15 July).

The winners will go through to the final at Wormsley - the late cricket lover John Paul Getty Jr's private ground in Buckinghamshire - on 28 August.

By then, Shropshire will have completed this summer's six-match Championship programme.

They now face two home matches, against Cornwall (at Shrewsbury, 21-22 July) and Berkshire (at Whitchurch, 4-6 August), before their final match against title rivals Cheshire at Nantwich (18-20 August).

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